Jesus built His church on a Rock
(Matthew 16:18)

Does the church of Christ consist of the saved?

“The Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

I. The church is the assembly of the saved.

A. The church of Christ came into being on the Day of Pentecost, when the Apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, proclaimed God’s message of Salvation, and God added those who were saved to His church.

1. To the question “What shall we do?” Peter replied: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:37, 38).

2. “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:40, 41).

3. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

B. By definition then, the church of Christ consists of those who are saved. God adds the saved to His church.

C. Salvation is needed because people sin. Only God can forgive sins. To make forgiveness possible, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of the world. People who believe in Him, repent of sin, confess faith and are baptized, receive forgiveness, and God adds them to His church.

II. “Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9).

A. “Our God is the God of salvation” (Psalm 68:20).

1. “I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11).

2. “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation” (Psalm 95:1).

B. Through the ages, men of faith have looked to God for salvation.

1. In the depths of despair Job still could say: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” ... “He also shall be my salvation” (Job 13:15a, 16a).

2. Shortly before his death, Jacob said: “I have waited for your salvation, O LORD!” (Genesis 49:18).

4. David looked to God for salvation. “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation” (Psalm 25:5).

5. Isaiah wrote: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation” (Isaiah 61:10a).

6. Jeremiah said: “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:26).

7. Micah said: “Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).

8. Habakkuk said: “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls - yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17, 18).

III. God promised to send a Savior for the whole world.
Old Testament prophets told of the coming Messiah who would bring salvation, not only to Israel, but also to the whole world.

A. “There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:21b-22). [See also Isaiah 25:9; 35:3, 4; 49:6; 52:7.]

B. “In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely” (Jeremiah 33:15, 16a).

C. Joel wrote: “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Joel 2:32).

IV. God’s promised salvation has come: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, Savior of the world.

A. Joseph was told in a dream regarding Mary: “And she will bring forth a Son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

B. After Jesus was born, an angel proclaimed to shepherds nearby: “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10b, 11).

C. John the Baptist testified when he saw Jesus: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

D. Believers at Sychar in Samaria, after hearing Jesus preach for two days, said: “We have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).

E. To the Jewish leaders Peter said of Jesus: “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11, 12).

V. We are saved by the sacrifice of Christ who “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).

A. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

B. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

C. Because of our sins, we deserve to die, but “the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

VI. What is the message of salvation preached by the church?

A. Once when Jesus spoke of the difficulty of entering God’s kingdom, His disciples said: “Who then can be saved?” His reply was: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25, 26).

1. Salvation depends on the grace of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

2. Man cannot save himself.

a. Some think they will be saved because they are relatively good people, but good deeds do not remove sin. Cornelius was a good man but he still needed the gospel to be saved (Acts 11:13, 14).
b. Some think they can be saved by law-keeping, but law-keeping cannot save because no one keeps laws perfectly (Romans 8:3, 4).
c. Some think political systems can save mankind, but in all systems, including democracies, sinners misuse political power to the detriment of others. John “saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to make war” against Christ and His army (Revelation 19:19-21).
d. Some think modern technology can save mankind, but technology facilitates evil as well as good. After a century of unprecedented technological advancement, man still has the same horrible problems caused by sin. Unprecedented evils occurred during the last century. Two world wars killed fifty million people. Nuclear weapons capable of destroying civilization were developed, deployed and stockpiled. Medical doctors murdered two billion unborn babies by abortion. Millions died of famine because of the uneven distribution of wealth. Earth’s resources started being consumed at an unsustainable rate. An AIDS pandemic killed more than 25 million people, with 30 million currently infected by HIV, a virus spread by immorality, especially homosexual relationships. Yet sexual perversion has been given human-rights status in many so-called developed countries.
Thus, in spite of amazing technological advancement, the four horsemen of Revelation chapter six (lust for power, war, famine and death) still gallop throughout the earth wreaking havoc as God allows men to suffer the consequences of their sins. In spite of these plagues “they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20, 21).
e. Man definitely cannot save himself. But the good news is that God offers salvation to all!

3. God saves those who respond to His grace with a good and noble heart.

a. Explaining the parable of the sower, Jesus said: “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit” (Luke 8:15).
b. “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18). “He will beautify the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4b).

C. What is this message of salvation that noble hearts gladly receive and obey?

1. “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

a. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” they replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30, 31).
b. Paul said: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

2. Faith in Christ must be confessed.

a. Jesus said: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32, 33).
b. Paul explains: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:9, 10).

3. Repentance is required.

a. Jesus came to call sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13).
b. When He sent out the twelve, they preached that people should repent (Mark 6:12).
c. Jesus told His hearers: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
d. Before His ascension, He told His disciples “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).
e. “Godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

4. At baptism penitent believers are saved by God.

a. Jesus told Nicodemus: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
b. Ananias told Paul: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
c. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26, 27).

d. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13), which is the church of Christ.

VI. What have we learned? Man cannot save himself. God is the only source of salvation that He offers freely through the sacrifice of His Son. All who accept God’s grace by believing in Christ, confessing His name, repenting, and being baptized for the forgiveness of sins are saved. It is still true, as it was 2000 years ago, that the Lord adds to the church day by day those who are being saved. The church of Christ consists of all the saved. Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive